Here is the promised beginning discussion of "The Gods" in
Celtic religion. The majority of this post is brought to you by
Lorax, Small Furry Tree-Creature of the Gods <g>
****Extra-Long Posts Warning****
I shall throw out the first hot caber by suggesting that use of the
"Gods" within a Pagan Celtic context is totally useless, mislead-
ing,and an example of the sloppy scholarship that Deartha'ir Isaac
This notion has been long in coming for me, but was triggered this
week when an ADF member noted the use of the word "God" [singular]
several hundred times in a suggested reference work on pre-Christian
Greek religion. It made her somewhat nervous as it seemed to not be
the best possible term in a polytheistic culture, given that a multi-
tude of things, from entities to abstract concepts had been subsumed
This, combined with my very recent reading of the Dunnaire Finn, the
Book of Invasions, and the Tain has led me to be more discriminating.
As my Priestess colleage, Brandy Williams, has often said, there are 2
kinds of people: Splitters, and people who deny the existence of
So, let us take it from the very top, the creation of the world. At
least, according to one translation of one version of the Book of
The first inhabitants of Ireland were Cesair, daughter of Bith, son of
Noe (Noah), and their 3 men + 50 women. <Happy happy, joy joy!>
These people all drowned, and are therefore unimportant to this story,
save that Fintan survived to recount tales of the beforetime.
Partholan was the second discoverer, the chief of his people. Par-
brought with him the people that were first in many arts--brewing,
cauldron making-first combat, farming, and a host of other things.
Patholan chose a fertile place, cleared 4 plains, and homesteaded
His wife slept with his retainer, which caused problems. This resul-
ted in the giving of the First Verdict, that of Delgnat. Boan, Brea,
Ban, Aine and 6 others were the "pure daughters" of Partholan, imply-
ing perhaps that he had more, following the customs of the times.
The generation of Partholan was the one responsible for first naming
places in Ireland. Partholan's generation was also long-lived, and no
plants grew old in their time. His generation largely died out after
Both of these first generations are referred to as men and women, not
deities. People of Arts [Aes Da'na] maybe yes, but not deithe [deit-
ies]. This, at least, according to the Christians who recorded the
The third generation is that of Neimhedh (Nemed). He came from
Neimhedh had 4 chiefs with him. Nemhed fought and won three battles
over the Fomhoire. Fo-mhor (over the sea, or something like that).
Despite this, the Fomorians seemed to be quite good at opressing the
Nemedians, by demanding 2/3 of their agricultural output at Samhain,
delivered to Magh Cetne. The Nemedians went to Greece and collected
an army, some drui and ban-drui, wolves and venemous animals. A
proper challenge was delivered, and the battles were engaged. The
Fomorians were defeated at last. Only 30 Nemedians survived.
The next group of invaders are the somewhat mysterious Fir Bolg, or
Bagmen. The Fir Bolg had 5 chiefs (one more than all of the previous
invaders) as did the De Dannan. The Fir Bolg divided Ireland into 5
parts. Previous invasions had separated Ireland into 4 parts. Much
is made of the poetic, noise-shakin skill of the Fir Bolg. They were
some jammin' magickal folk, alright. The Fir Bolg have the distinc-
tion of the first "riogh" (king) in Ireland. So we have division into
5 parts, kingship, and the use of iron.
Now, the Sons of Nemed had not been sitting still all of this time.
They had been off in Greece, learning draidheacht, cleverness, nice-
ness, and Spiffy Things In General (slight gloss from bad 19th century
Victorian english). These folks were called "Tuatha De" " ... that
is, they considered their men of learning to be gods, and their
husbandmen non-gods, so much was their power in every art and every
druidic occultism besides. Thence came the name, which is Tuathe De,
Now, please note that their ancestors are PEOPLE. The TdD became so
virtue of their skills. This is a process that would not be unfam-
iliar to a good citizen of Republican (not Imperial) Rome. One can
become deific by proper actions, family and/or national devotion, and
other things. The TdD had been instructed in 4 cities in the North.
One has to infer that these cities are in Greece, where they are
instructed in these arts. Now, not all translations say this, exact-
ly. Greece and Spain are frequently glosses for the Otherworld, but
not always. The 4 Treasures were brought from Greece. As we have
discussed the Treasures before, we shall pass in silence on them here.
The TdD fought battles with the Athenians as their allies, and thru
druidic demonry reanimated dead bodies that then rose up and fought as
if they were living. It is here that we learn that hazel or rowan
twigs thru the neck do in reanimated corpses. <Occult Factiod #912
collect em all.)
The TdD arrive in Ireland on a Monday, in the Calends of May, where
burn their ships on the shore so they cannot return, or the Fomorians
use the ships.
The TdD fought with the Fir Bolg (it is, after all Ireland we are
talking about...), won, lost, won again, lost again, were healed,
hurt, etc. Nuada gets his silver arm and loses kingship in this
process. The TdD slew all but a few of the Fir Bolg, who then fled to
the outermost isles of the seas. Compare this with the more archaic
traditions of the Hebrides and Northern Islands of Ireland...
The genealogies up to this point are enough to make a kinship special-
whimper, cringe, and fall to sleep the final sleep, so we will ignore
them, but to say that aside from Cessair, everyone is related (or
sleeping with someone who is) to everyone else. Biblical begatting is
easier, trust me.
The TdD are referred to as goblins in the text. So much for the great
contrast between the demonic Fomorians and Deific TdD. If you care to
argue that to a medieval monk all deities are one deity and all are
demonic, then there is even less reason to consider the Fomor demonic.
That said, the text has Eochaid triumph, "without enchantment of
shaped the distinction of good verses but as for knowledge of the
warrior bands of whom we speak although we enumerate them we do not
The picture is far more confused than ANY simple model, folks. I have
not even begun to discuss the "giant" stories. If I were to do so,
then Finn and his buddies are giants, not unlike Jotuns. But wait!
So is Cu! And, if they are giants, then what are their parents? Finn
is descended from Baiscne, and Cu is descended (or a reincarnation) of
Lugh. So the Aes Dana=Giants?@(#*#*(@#_@
If we get to the local spirits, worshipped well into the 18th century,
and maybe later, (or the 20th, as Erynn thinks), any meaningful use of
the term "God" has to be tossed out with the burnt brac after dinner.
We have people, descended from the Trojans/Greeks learning heavy juju
and becoming like Gods. They fight, live, die, get reincarnated,
stretch their influence far beyond a single generation, and are
immortalized in song. Remember, the Cauldron of Poesy, the only
available text on the training of a fili (one who sees) reminds us
that we are all more than our birth, at least potentially.
As Patrick Ford has suggested, the written tales/sagas are probably
just a sequencing of shorter oral bits, there is no real problem with
dying on page 23, and having hot sweaty sex on page 25.
They are also said to be immortal in the Otherworld. Many of the
tales have all of these survivors gathering in the Otherworld (some-
where near Miami or Desert Springs, I suspect) and only sometimes
coming out to see us mere mortals.
Also note (this flash of awen just in) that most of the folks that
wander into faery are Aes Dana! Reverend Kirk, Thomas the Rhymer, Tam
Lin and many others.
The Path to Faery must be (therefore) paved with Excellence.
Now, the above analysis depends strictly on my reading of the texts.
I am quoting from the handiest text, the one that unfortunately has no
bibliographic data in it, but is well-reasoned, erudite, and foot-
noted to death. This is a facing-page xlation, btw.
I am NOT saying that some of these beings are not worthy of devotion.
I am saying that it is not ness. true that all of them were viewed as
"Gods" at all times in history, particularly not in the omnipotent,
omniscient Xian meaning of the word, nor in the usage common to
It may be best to regard the Aes Dana as Shterpersavs, or "Short-Term-
Personal-Saviors", in Dobbspeak.
<Rant Modes Off>
Lorax & Erynn
Next: Walking With My Friends (Masochistic Maiden)